Paris, Dec 21:
Belgium will end the year as No. 1 ahead of world champions France in the global rankings released by FIFA on Thursday.
Belgium, beaten by France in the World Cup semi-finals, edge Didier Deschamps’ team by one ranking point.
Belgium have 1,727 points by FIFA’s calculations to 1,726 for France. Brazil are third on 1,676.
FIFA noted on their web site that France, who were ranked No. 9 last Christmas, were the year’s “Best Mover” after a “stellar 2018…having gained more points (165) since December 2017 than any other nation.”
The governing body of world football also noted that Europe and Asia have gained top-50 places at the expense of Africa.
Europe has 31, an increase of two, Asia is up one to three and Africa is down three to five top-50 representatives.
Kosovo were the biggest climbers, jumping 46 places to 131.
FIFA rankings, December 20:
1. Belgium, 2. France, 3. Brazil, 4. Croatia, 5. England, 6. Portugal, 7. Uruguay, 8. Switzerland, 9. Spain, 10. Denmark.